Amaraweera Orders Probe After Plan Fails
BY Thameenah Razeek
Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has ordered an investigation into the failure of officials to follow the Cabinet decision to reduce the use of asbestos roofing sheets in new school buildings. Three months ago the Cabinet adopted a memorandum proposed by Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera to minimise the use of asbestos sheets for roofing.
The Ministry decided to reduce the use of asbestos sheets due to their environmental and health hazards. Medical studies have shown that long-term inhalation of asbestos fibres, in particular, can cause lung cancer.
“Asbestos imports also caused a downturn in the local tile sector. A ban on asbestos was suggested for 2017, but it did not come to fruition. However, under the current administration, the emphasis was on reducing the use of asbestos sheets for roofing.
As a result, Cabinet approved my Cabinet Memorandum to restrict the use of asbestos in new school and pre-school buildings by the end of 2021,” he stated. Speaking further, he noted that the decision must take effect within two months of Cabinet approval; but expressed concerns about why the authorities had not been able to implement the plan. As a result, Minister Amaraweera has decided to launch an emergency investigation at the Ministry.